La Scena Musicale

Monday, 15 November 2010

This Week in Toronto (Nov. 15 - 21)

Photo: tenor Joseph Calleja

The big news for opera fans this week is the belated appearance of Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja in the Roy Thomson Hall Vocal Series. He was first announced for November 2009 as part of last year's Vocal Series. His recital was postponed to May of 2010. Then it was again delayed to November 19th. Let's hope Mr. Calleja will appear as scheduled this Friday. He is of course no stranger to Toronto audiences, having appeared as Rodolfo in a COC La boheme way back in April 2000. He was near the very beginning of his career at the time, and even in those early days, his voice was exceptionally beautiful, with an interesting fast vibrato that recalled the tenors of the past. Now, ten years later, Calleja at 32 is a big star, one of a handful of tenors on the highest international level and with a big label recording contract. He appeared as Hoffmann on the Met Live in HD series last season, and this season, he will appear as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor opposite French diva Natalie Dessay (March 19 - check your local listings on the Cineplex network). The Roy Thomson Hall concert is a program of opera arias from Rigoletto, Macbeth, Tosca, Romeo et Juliette and Le Cid, plus songs by Tosti and Leoncavallo. This is your great chance to hear this bel canto tenor. Go to for more information.

On Tuesday Nov. 16 8 pm, the wonderful Russian pianist Olga Kern will be in town to play a recital of Haydn, Schumann, Rachmaninov and Balakirev. Kern was the gold medal winner of the 2001 Van Cliburn Competition. The concert takes place at RCM's Koerner Hall. For more information and tickets, visit

The Mozart Society of Toronto has had a long and distinguished history. It was started by the late Peter Sandor, and when he passed away some years ago, the Society continued under the guidance of his colleagues and associates, all of them believed in their mission of promoting the music of Mozart. But in the current time of the internet and easy access to live and music online, attendance has dwindled. And maybe young people today aren't so interested in joining a group devoted to the music of a composer who lived two hundred fifty years ago. The Society has decided to come to an end with this last concert, a recital given by soprano Charlotte Corwin, in a program of Haydn, Handel and Mozart, with Nicole Bellamy at the piano. Corwin is a very fine singer - I saw her Gilda at the Opera York Rigoletto last March and thoroughly enjoyed it. The recital takes place at 7:30 pm in Sunderland Hall, First Unitarian Congregation, 175 St. Clair Avenue West. Admission for non-members is $20 at the door.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra continues with it Slavic Celebration this week. I attended both performances of Glagolitic Mass last week and was blown away by the power and sweep of this great piece by Janacek. The audience was enthralled by the performance and gave the artists a rousing ovation - it was just too bad the Roy Thomson Hall was far from full. If you missed last week, by all means attend this week's concerts. On Wednesday Nov. 17 at 8 pm, TSO presents Swiss pianist Andreas Haefliger in Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2. Also on the program is Glinka's Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila, and the ever popular Moldau by Smetana and Janacek's high energy Taras Bulba. Peter Oundjian conducts. This is an excellent program well worth attending. Andreas Haefliger of course is the son of the great Swiss tenor Ernst Haefliger who passed away a few short years ago. The last time Haefliger senior was in town was as the Speaker in the Schoenberg Gurrelieder, which marked the swansong of the TSO music director Jukka-Pekka Saraste. That was about 2001 - how time flies! The show is repeated on Thursday at 2 pm.



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